EppsNet Archive: Music

Let it Bleed

3 Apr 2014 /
Hemophiliac (album)

Hemophiliac (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At my piano lesson tonight, I noticed what looked like a streak of blood on one of the keys. The next thing I noticed was that the tip of my right index finger was bleeding — apparently a paper cut from a sheet of music, although I didn’t feel anything at the time.

I didn’t want to ruin the piano so I stopped playing and tried to get everything cleaned up.

I asked my teacher, “If you’re playing a concert and you start bleeding, what should you do? Just keep going?”

“Yes.”

“What if in addition to being a pianist, you’re also a hemophiliac and you might die? Would that alter your advice?”

“Are you a hemophiliac?”

“Fortunately, no.”


Neil Young Acoustic Show at the Dolby Theater

2 Apr 2014 /

We were lucky enough to see Neil Young’s solo acoustic performance at the Dolby Theatre in LA last night. I say “lucky” even though we paid for the tickets because they did sell out rather quickly.

Here’s the set list, to the best of my recollection. I may have some of the harmonica instrumentation wrong. He had the harmonica rack on for the whole show; some songs he played it and some he didn’t.

First Set

From Hank to Hendrix – guitar, harmonica. A good opener for this kind of a show: From Hank to Hendrix / I walked these streets with you / Here I am with this old guitar / Doin’ what I do. / I always expected / That you should see me through / I never believed in much / But I believed in you.

On the Way Home – guitar, harmonica

Only Love Can Break Your Heart – guitar, harmonica

Love in Mind – piano

Philadelphia – piano

Mellow My Mind – guitar (banjo?), harmonica. He played the Gibson Mastertone you can see in the right foreground of the photo. He said it’s a guitar, not a banjo. It sure looks and sounds like a banjo though.

Reason to Believe (Tim Hardin) – piano

Someday – piano

Changes (Phil Ochs) – guitar

Harvest – guitar, harmonica

Old Man – guitar, harmonica.

Second Set

Goin’ Back – guitar

A Man Needs a Maid – synthesizer, piano, harmonica

Ohio – guitar. What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground? This hasn’t lost any punch over the last 40 years.

Southern Man – guitar

If You Could Read My Mind (Gordon Lightfoot) – guitar. A better interpretation than the original, which I’ve never really liked very much.

Harvest Moon – guitar, harmonica

Mr. Soul – pipe organ, harmonica. I’ve heard a lot of people play guitar and harmonica together. I may have even heard someone play piano and harmonica together. But I’ve never (until now) heard anyone play harmonica riffs while performing on a pipe organ.

Flying on the Ground Is Wrong – piano. Interesting story about this song: when he wrote it, he was living in L.A. at the Commodore Gardens on Orchid Ave. The Commodore Gardens is gone now. It went away when Orchid Ave. was shortened to make room for . . . the Dolby Theatre! (see map)

After the Gold Rush – piano. With a line change: We’ve got Mother Nature on the run in the 21st century.

Heart of Gold – guitar, harmonica.

Encore

Thrasher – guitar, harmonica.

He had seven or eight guitars available, several harmonicas, a grand piano, an upright piano, a synthesizer and a pipe organ.

He has an incredible repertoire of songs to choose from, his voice for some reason sounds better than ever, and he’s a fantastic musician, which you have to be for a solo acoustic performance. If you really can’t play or sing, there’s no place to hide.

Most of the guitars came with stories, related in a laconic, deadpan style. One used to belong to Hank Williams. “I got it from a guy in Nashville. Thanks to you, and people like you, I was a rich hippie. And I was able to buy the guitar.”

Two were given to him by Steve Stills. One — the one he’s playing in the photo — used to belong to a folk singer who was performing in Denver when a gunshot blasted a large hole in the front of the instrument. “That was long before weed was legalized. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. But no one singing folk songs in Denver has been shot since it was legalized.”


Expanding My Repertoire

22 Mar 2014 /
The only known photograph of Frédéric...

The only known photograph of Frédéric Chopin, often incorrectly described as a daguerreotype (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My piano teacher asks me if there are any pieces I want to learn . . .

“How about . . . ?” and here I name a piece by Chopin.

“This one?” she asks and starts to play it.

“Yeah.”

“It’s hard.”

“Well, it sounds quite impressive but I think if you break it down it’s just arpeggios and thirds.”

“No, it’s not just thirds,” she says and starts to play it again to show me. “And that’s with the left hand. Do you think you can play that with your left hand?”

“My left hand’s not very good.”

“I know.”

“So that one is too hard.”

“Yes.”

“OK, how about . . . ?” and here I name another piece by Chopin.

“That’s the only piece that’s harder than the first one.”

“How about this?” I ask, and play a YouTube video on my phone.

“What is that?”

“It’s from a film called The Piano.”

“Is that New Age music? It’s not classical music.”

“Is that bad?”

“IT’S TOO EASY! YOU COULD SIGHT-READ IT!”


Death Row Headlines We’d Like to See

19 Mar 2014 /

I saw this headline on MSN News this morning:

Texas Set to Execute Aspiring Rapper

Here’s an undated photo of the musical murderer:

Ray Jasper

Ray Jasper

The fact that he was an aspiring rapper seems comically irrelevant to the fact that he was convicted of slitting a man’s throat — which didn’t kill him — and then stabbing him — which did.

Some future Death Row headlines we might expect to see from MSN:

  • Texas Set to Execute Aspiring Comic with 37 Twitter Followers
  • Texas Set to Execute Amateur Banjo Player
  • Texas Set to Execute Man With Irritating Laugh

The Best Advice I Got This Week

15 Mar 2014 /

Horowitz quote

I was watching a Paul Barton YouTube video about piano practice . . . he said that when someone asked Horowitz how he’s able to play so many difficult pieces, Horowitz replied, “You just got to really want to.”

That seems like excellent advice. It’s short, just a few words . . . you can remember it without even trying to. And I think it could be applied to almost any endeavor.

Imagine someone listening to Horowitz and thinking, “Wow, that’s great! I’d give anything to be able to play like that!”

But he wouldn’t really give anything. He wants to play like Horowitz but he doesn’t really want to play like Horowitz. He doesn’t want to practice 20 hours a day and give up everything else in his life.

In any endeavor, reaching a goal often requires more than someone is willing to give . . . not more than they are able to give but more than they are willing to give.


Rickie Lee Jones – Sympathy for the Devil (Live)

11 Mar 2014 /

Rickie Lee Jones “Wild Girl” Live

10 Mar 2014 /

The Secret to Playing Difficult Piano Pieces

9 Mar 2014 /

Horowitz quote


Neil Young in LA

27 Feb 2014 /
Neil Young

Neil Young is playing a couple of solo acoustic shows next month at the Dolby Theatre. Tickets went on sale Monday morning, but somehow I missed the fact that they’d been available via “pre-sale” since last Friday and were all gone by Monday morning.

What a heartbreaker. Fortunately, thanks to the wonders of technology and social networks, Mr. Young and his team were able to inform me via Facebook that a third show had been added and I was able to log in and get tickets for that one.

The sold-out shows are on a Saturday and Sunday. The new show is on a Tuesday. Am I looking forward to driving in to LA and back on a Tuesday? No, but on a list of solo acoustic shows for which I’d be most willing to knock over my own mother to get a ticket, Neil Young would be second, behind Bob Dylan.

Unlike some singer-songwriters, Young also has a distinctive style and talent as a musician, plus an almost-50-year portfolio of great songs — not clever lyrics or inventive melodies, but a Neil Young song is as real as the day is long. They get a hold of you, like a meathook.

A solo acoustic performance is like he comes over to your house and picks up a guitar. Can you imagine that? Neil Young is at my house and he just picked up a guitar. ”Do you mind?” he asks.

One more thought on Bob Dylan: Solo acoustic Bob Dylan is part of the iconography of America in the 1960s. I don’t expect Bob Dylan to ever do a solo acoustic show again but if he did, the significance of it I think would be second only to Jimi Hendrix playing a concert after coming back from the dead.


Act Naturally

1 Jan 2014 /

Well I hope you come and see me in the movies
Then I’ll know that you will plainly see
The biggest fool that ever hit the big time
And all I gotta do is act naturally

— Buck Owens, “Act Naturally”

Harvard Business Review: The Fine Art of Tough Love

Posted by on 17 Dec 2013

Belly of the Whale

30 Nov 2013 /

Chaconne

4 Aug 2013 /
Johann Sebastian Bach

On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.

Johannes Brahms, in a letter to Clara Schumann, regarding “Chaconne” from Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Partita No. 2 in D Minor for solo violin.

Do People Recognize Beauty in Everyday Life?

4 Aug 2013 /

This is a few years old now, but I just saw it today. (Please read Gene Weingarten‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning story from the Washington Post for the full details.)

The premise is that Joshua Bell, international virtuoso, one of the best violinists in the world — maybe the best violinist in the world — dresses in jeans, T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap, and for 45 minutes plays several renowned classical pieces (on a good fiddle — the Gibson ex-Huberman Stradivarius of 1713, purchased by Bell in 2003 for $4 million) in a Washington, D.C., metro station, during a Friday morning rush hour, with a violin case open in front of him for donations.

Do people recognize beauty in everyday life?

[SPOILER ALERT]

No. They don’t. Stacy Furukawa, a demographer at the Commerce Department, is the only person out of 1,000 or so passers-by who recognizes Bell.

“It was the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen in Washington,” Furukawa says. “Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! Quarters!”

(Some people gave less than that, including pennies. Bell’s total take was $32.17.)

Furukawa enters the video around 1:35, stops 10 feet in front of Bell and listens smiling to the rest of the performance while everyone else in the place goes on about their business.  It’s heartbreaking to watch . . . because of the one person who stopped or the thousand others who didn’t, I’m not sure which.


Dog Eat Dog

2 Aug 2013 /
Cover of "Dog Eat Dog"

Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand
In every culture in decline
The watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away

Joni Mitchell, “Dog Eat Dog”

Steven Miller Out

17 May 2013 /
http://www.cnbc.com/id/100741122

“He’s a joker, he’s a smoker, he’s a midnight toker,” Obama added.


He Stopped Loving Her Today

26 Apr 2013 /
George Jones

Country music legend George Jones dies at 81

CNN.com

The Season’s Upon Us

21 Dec 2012 /
Christmas carolers

There’s bells and there’s holly, the kids are gung-ho
True love finds a kiss beneath fresh mistletoe
Some families are messed up while others are fine
If you think yours is crazy, well you should see mine

— “The Season’s Upon Us,” Dropkick Murphys

Language Poetry and Aleatory Poetry

16 Nov 2012 /

The last couple of weeks in ModPo, we’ve been reading “Language Poetry” and aleatory poetry, including the work of Ron Silliman, Lyn Hejinian, Bob Perelman, Charles Bernstein, Jackson Mac Low, Jena Osman and Joan Retallack.

I have to admit it all seemed lazy to me. The reader has to do all the work. (See below for a differing opinion.) I didn’t like any of the poems enough to share one, so here instead are the lyrics to Randy Newman‘s “Marie”:

Randy Newman at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritag...

Randy Newman at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You looked like a princess the night we met
With your hair piled up high
I will never forget
I’m drunk right now baby
But I’ve got to be
Or I never could tell you
What you meant to me

I loved you the first time I saw you
And I always will love you Marie
I loved you the first time I saw you
And I always will love you Marie

You’re the song that the trees sing when the wind blows
You’re a flower, you’re a river, you’re a rainbow

Sometimes I’m crazy
But I guess you know
And I’m weak and I’m lazy
And I’ve hurt you so
And I don’t listen to a word you say
When you’re in trouble I just turn away
But I love you

I loved you the first time I saw you
And I always will love you Marie
I loved you the first time I saw you
And I always will love you Marie

If that isn’t poetry, I don’t know what is.

Here’s what ModPo professor Al Filreis says about aleatory poetry:

So this kind of writing, I want to emphasize, has rigor and it has intention at the level of design. It’s not easy, it’s not facile and it’s not to be confused with improvisation and indeterminacy and even random or arbitrary are the wrong words to describe it. Many, as I’ve said, resist it. Many find no beauty in it. . . . Why should I waste my time, it doesn’t mean anything. Well, I have so many things to say in response to that and gosh, I’m not even sure where to start, but I’ll give it a try.

Well, here’s one thing: when I think about how much of my time I spend, my own time, how much time I spend and waste really, watching and listening to things that make a whole lot of conventional sense but ultimately don’t mean anything. Where normally meant statements are empty and useless and unbeautiful, I figure that I owe it to those who seek a significant alternative, the time of day. Maybe they’re telling me to relax. Maybe they’re telling me let down my guard. I’m always, I seem to be always on guard for meaning in meaninglessness. Maybe I should let down that guard and maybe I should hear the music in the apparent dissonance and discordance of my world. And maybe the discovery of sense in language that was not intended at the level of the sentence or of the phrase makes that sense all the more powerful. And maybe when words formed through quasi non-intentional chance operations produce something “accidentally” lovely (I’ve got air quotes around the word accidentally), when that loveliness is accidental, I’ll be all the more astonished at the beauty that’s just out there, that’s ambient in our language and just waiting to be rearranged.


I Love Piano Music!

28 Oct 2012 /

Hi everybody! It’s me, Lightning!

I love listening to piano music! Whenever someone at my house tickles the ivories, I like to curl up next to the bench and listen!

Lightning by the piano

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